Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

Boyhood
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and some peril
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

Before Sunset

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Fair warning: five minutes into this film the critic checked out of my head and the fan took over. It may not be great art and it won’t work for everyone, but it kept me smiling all day.

Nine years ago, in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, two young people met on a train and impetuously agreed to spent a day together in Vienna. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American student on his last day in Europe, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a French student on her way back to Paris, talked as though they had known each other forever. Or maybe it is better to say that they talked as though they knew they would never see each other again — with complete openness.

In Fear of Flying, Erica Jong famously wrote of the fantasy “zipless” sexual encounter, an almost magical connection with no psychic, physical, or logistical clumsiness to impede it. Perhaps, though, the idea of a “zipless” emotional encounter is even more compelling. In Before Sunrise the talk is a sort of nonstop jazz improvization of such dizzying open-heartedness and intimacy that it is one of the most heart-wrenchingly romantic and truly sexy films ever made, at least for those who consider great talk the ultimate in exquisite seduction. When the stars and directors re-united to allow us to see the characters nine years later, it was like getting a chance to catch up with people we have genuinely missed and wondered about.

And so we have Before Sunset. Jesse has now written a book about what remains the most vivid encounter of his life, and he comes to Paris for a book-signing. Celine is there. And once again, he has a plane to catch and they have just a few hours to walk through a European city and talk and talk and talk.

And once again, it is pure pleasure to share that with them. There is still a powerful connection between Jesse and Celine and it still makes a powerful connection with the audience. It is not so much what they say. Though they talk about big issues — relationships, finding meaning in life, God, sex, regrets, romance vs. cynicism — their insights are not especially fresh or well-expressed. But Hawke and Delpy (who wrote the script with director Linklater) understand the rhythms of conversations between two people who use words less to enlighten than to draw each other closer, words for flirtation and seduction, rapturously romantic. Sometimes they use what they say to hide. Notice how often they say something teasing or slightly askew to get a laugh and to protect themselves from risking too much openness. But sometimes it is to reveal.

All of this unfolds in real time with a driver standing by to take Jesse to the airport, leaving them and us a bit breathless. Their journey as they walk through a garden, hop on a boat, and get into the back seat of the limo is a journey of the heart and spirit you will want to take with them.

Because they helped to develop and co-wrote the script, Hawke and Delpy inhabit the characters fully, with performances of great sensitivity and vulnerability. We are pulled toward them as they are pulled toward each other. They don’t have the buoyant optimism of their first meeting. They are both a bit more fragile, but that means they are more aware of the preciousness and importance of what they hope to find in each other.

If you are looking for action or plot twists or something with guns and explosions, ignore my recommendation. But if you would rather listen to good talk between people who make talk into an art, you will find much to delight and charm you.

Parents should know that the movie has very explicit sexual references, including adultery, as well as drinking and smoking.

Families who see this movie should talk about what might have happened if Jesse and Celine had stayed together in Vienna. Would they have been ready for a relationship when they were younger? What do you think it is that draws them to each other? If Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy get together in another nine years for another film, what will it be about?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Before Sunrise and the brief scene featuring Jesse and Celine in Linklater’s animated film, Waking Life. They will also enjoy the classic French romances A Man and a Woman and And Now My Love. Linklater’s other films include Dazed and Confused and the hit comedy School of Rock. For a thoughtful discussion of this fascinating director, check out this website. The songs of the late Nina Simone are well worth a listen.

Napoleon Dynamite

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic elements and language.
Movie Release Date:2004

When you are hurtling through adolescence, overcome with warring emotions and desperately trying to learn a whole new set of rules for status and interaction, everything you thought you knew seems suspect and even your own body is completely unfamiliar and terrifyingly out of control. It sometimes seems that the best anchor to keep you from levitating off the ground over the intense humiliation and the overwhelming injustice of it all is to adopt an air of ferocious perpetual exasperation and disdain. But what keeps you going are those few moments when a tantalizing glimpse of the possibility of pure pleasure provokes the ultimate accolade: “Sweet!”

So, when our eponymous hero, Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) climbs onto the schoolbus and slumps into a seat in the back and an admiring younger kid asks him, “What are you going to do today, Napoleon?” his reply is, “Whatever I feel like I want to do! Gosh!” Then whatever he feels like he wants to do turns out to be tying a muscle man action figure to a string and throwing it out the window to pull along behind the bus. Sweet!

And when he he opens the door to find a shy classmate peddling Glamour Shot photos and lanyard keychains, he disdainfully tells her, “I got like a finity of those I made in summer camp.”

And when his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) taunts him, “Napoleon, don’t be jealous that I’ve been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know I’m trying to become a cage fighter,” he replies, “Since when? We both know you’ve got like the worst reflexes of all time!” Then he has to try to prove it, and it appears that in the race for that title, they may be in a tie.

And when Napoleon sees his new friend Pedro’s (Efren Ramirez) bike, he says, “Dang! Ever take it off any sweet jumps?” When he tries, it doesn’t work out very well.

Life seems so unfair. Women only like men who’ve got skills, and to Napoleon that means numbchuck skills, computer hacking skills, or maybe some really sweet dance moves. Those endless arms and legs don’t seem to want to cooperate well. Heder is a brilliant physical performer, showing us everything about Napoleon in the way he stands, sits, walks, and responds to everything just a half-second too late.

Then there’s Napoleon’s uncle and his schemes to make a lot of money and go back in time to that crucial turning point in a high school football game, Pedro’s campaign for class president against alpha girl Summer (played by Haylie Duff, older sister of Hillary), and what happens when Kit’s online babe shows up. And the young photographer who tells her subject, “Just imagine you’re weightless, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by tiny little seahorses.”

The movie’s deliriously specific detail, superb use of the Idaho setting, affection for its characters, unexpected developments, and most of all its genuine sweetness keep us laughing with Napoleon, not at him. He may be clueless, but he has a great heart and we know he will be fine, not just for a satisfyingly happy ending for the movie but beyond. He might even develop enough perspective on his life to be able to make a movie about it.

This movie is the first feature from 24-year-old director Jared Hess, who wrote the film with his wife Jerusha. They met co-producer Jeremy Coon and 26-year-old John Heder at Brigham Young University. To put it in Napoleon’s terms, they all got skills. I’m looking forward to whatever they do next.

Parents should know that the movie contains some implied sexual encounters between adults. School bullies use headlocks and punches. There are some accidents used for comic effect and an animal is killed off-screen. A character sells purportedly breast size-enhancing herbs. Parents should make sure that kids and teens know that it can be very dangerous to give personal information to people you meet online. A strength of the movie is the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro.

Families who see this movie should talk about the writers’ answer when asked when it takes place: “Idaho.” How does it seem like or not like your own experiences of adolescence? How would you list your skills? Does Napoleon seem like the kind of guy who will be able to write a movie like this just a few years later?

Families who appreciate this movie will also enjoy Gregory’s Girl, Lucas, My Bodyguard and, for more mature audiences, Rushmore, Election and American Splendor.

Garfield

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2004

Garfield is a big, orange, lazy glutton of a cat created by cartoonist Jim Davis in 1978. His musings on life’s essential concerns — meaning mostly how he can get more of everything, especially food and attention, without any effort — work pretty well in a three-panel comic. At least they work well enough so that, as someone once said about the “Nancy” comic strip, it is easier to read it than not to read it. If only that were true of this movie, which requires real effort to endure.

The real genius Davis showed was not in humor; it was in marketing. Several Garfield books, just collections of the strips, were on the best-seller list at the same time in the 1980′s. And the strip led to animated television specials with Lorenzo Music providing Garfield’s voice. And that has now led to a live-action movie, with Bill Murray providing the voice and Breckin Meyer playing Garfield’s owner, Jon.

In order to make a three-panel joke that is not specifically directed at children into a feature film that is, the people behind this movie have tried to have it both ways. Garfield begins as the unabashedly self-centered, wisecracking, lasagne-loving fur-covered id character from the comic strip, but then undertakes a rescue mission, somehow transformed into a loyal friend who is willing to exert enormous effort and take big risks to save the dog he once considered an appalling intruder. As a result, none of this makes much sense or captures our interest. But there are some pleasantly silly moments along the way.

We first meet Garfield as the “so much time and so little to do” cat who cares for nothing but food (especially lasagne), attention, and being in charge. Life feels pretty good for him until a pretty veterinarian (Jennifer Love Hewitt as Liz) persuades Jon to take home a dog named Odie.

Garfield experiences severe sibling rivalry, especially when his efforts to control Odie backfire. Then Odie is taken by an ambitious animal trainer, the decidedly un-happy Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), who plans to make him perform on television, and Garfield goes to the rescue.

As in the comic strip, the human characters are so bland they are barely visible. The characters with personality are the animals, real with some special effects enhancement except for the all-CGI Garfield and all with top voice talent except for the silent Odie. Highlights include a dance-off between Garfield and Odie to the Black-Eyed Peas song “Hey Mama,” a wild ride through airducts and stairs as Garfield tries to find Odie, and some just-to-keep-the-parents-awake references to Jerry Maguire, Apocalypse Now, Elvis, Billy Joel, and even Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Parents should know that the movie has some comic violence, including a shock collar used on both a dog and a human. No one of either species is seriously harmed. There is some PG-style crude language (“butt,” “blow chunks,” “suck-up”) and brief vulgar humor. There is also some intrusive product placement for Wendy’s, though the product that makes the greatest impression is the lasagne.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Garfield was jealous of Odie and Happy jealous of his brother and why it was so hard for Jon and Liz to tell each other how they felt.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Cats and Dogs, Teacher’s Pet, Lady and the Tramp, and Air Bud. Older viewers will also enjoy seeing Murray and Tobolowsky together in Groundhog Day.

De Lovely

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

De-Lovely is Di-Sapointing.

On the asset side, we have the glorious songs of Cole Porter, the most urbane and elegant composer-lyricist of the 20th century. He’s the top.

And we have suitably elegant and urbane production design, with sets and costumes that help to tell the story.

Unfortunately, we also have a script that keeps getting in the way of the story. Yes, I know that the previous attempt to film Porter’s life was 1946′s highly fictionalized Night and Day, with Cary Grant (Porter’s own choice) playing the lead. But the fact that the first movie left out Porter’s homosexuality is not a reason to make it the main theme of this version. The over-emphasis of Porter’s sexual orientation in this film goes past disproportionality into the category of weirdly obsessive. All right, he was gay. But what about all the other things we’d like to know?

Perhaps the worst of the many wrong-headed choices in this film, however, is the deadly decision to begin with Porter as an old man, talking to someone (The angel of death? A sepulchral sort of psychoanalyst?) as he sees his life play out before him on a stage (get it?) and, for the Hollywood years, on a screen (now do you get it?). This may have looked creative and meaningful on paper. It does not work in the movie.

The music is, well, de-lovely. But the numbers are not well handled. Perhaps in an attempt to follow in the tradition of Oscar-winning hit Chicago, the songs are pointedly, even ham-handedly intended to comment on the events of Porter’s life, which is not only innaccurate in showing which songs were written when but also diminishes the songs’ ability to tell their own story. Too many of the songs are given to Kline, a gifted musician and singer who went for authenticity (Porter was not a good singer) instead of musicality. For the rest of the songs, there is some stunt casting of pop stars, and most of them do very well. Alanis Morrisette’s Olive Oyl get-up and reedy, Bjork-ish rendition of “Let’s Do It” does not work as well as the smooth and smoky “Begin the Beguine” by Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall’s silky “Just One of Those Things,” and the mischevious “Let’s Misbehave” by Elvis Costello. But even the best of these renditions, the highlight of the movie, are spoiled with too many cuts. Just buy the soundtrack CD instead.

At one point, Porter and his wife view a screening of the Cary Grant biopic, in a scene that is intended to draw a sharp contrast between the Hollywood-ized (meaning heterosexual-ized) superficial story-telling of the first and the more in-depth and revealing aspects of the second. Unfortunately, it just draws a sharp contrast between the elegant sophistication of Cary Grant and the torpid ham-handedness of “De-Lovely,” utterly unsuited to its subject with its mis-match of form and content.

Parents should know that the movie has explicit sexual references for a PG-13. A theme of the movie is Porter’s life as a semi-closeted gay man and the stress this put on his relationship with his wife. There is also a reference to a miscarriage (including some blood), the (offscreen) death of a child, and severe injury resulting from a horseback-riding accident. Characters drink and smoke a great deal (one dies of emphysema).

Families who see this movie should talk about what drew Cole and Linda to each other. What did each of them want from the relationship? What did each of them get? Families should be sure to discuss Cole’s bitterness at the end of his life. Would he have been so bitter if he had spent more of his time differently? What do people have to do to maintain a sense of satisfaction and the ability to continue to develop relationships with others at the end of their lives?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy seeing some of Porter’s musicals including Kiss Me Kate, Silk Stockings, Can-Can, and High Society. They will also enjoy the previous biopic, briefly glimpsed in this film, starring Cary Grant and Alexis Smith as the Porters, and featuring Monty Wooley and Mary Martin as themselves. It may not strive for accuracy, but it is fun to watch, especially Martin performing her signature song, Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” You can also see Marilyn Monroe’s unforgettably sultry version of the song in Let’s Make Love.

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